News Orgs Unite for Austin Municipal Research Institute
Statesman, Monitor, KUT, and KLRU to collaborate on CodeNEXT beat
Although it remains far from certain that Austin's in-progress attempt to rewrite its land use code of ordinances – aka CodeNEXT – will in fact result in more than rhetorical changes, the aspirational effort has triggered a journalistic development that might bear research and reportorial fruit. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, the Austin American-Statesman, the Austin Monitor, KUT-FM, and KLRU-TV are collaborating to form an online "CodeNEXT Hub," a joint pilot project of the newly formed Austin Municipal Research Institute, which will bring together reporters and academic researchers working on new developments in the drafts of CodeNEXT as well as the historical background of land development in Austin. The project also plans community engagement via "game nights," e.g.: "Attendees can try their hands at governing and shaping the city, appropriating cash for different needs, and using Legos to model how the population might be allocated among districts." The AMRI is still being organized and seeking funding sources. Former Monitor publisher Mike Kanin (who recently moved to the Texas Observer) told CJR the project, spearheaded with Statesman reporter Dan Zehr, seeks to hit the "sweet spot" between journalism and academic research.